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Photo Courtesy of Columbia SHARP

SHARP, Columbia’s newest premier a cappella group has released their first music video. The video features an original composition which combines Coffee by Miguel and Pillowtalk by Zayn. The result is a stunning piece that was filmed on various parts of Columbia’s campus.

The music video is absolutely beautiful and was performed and created entirely by current Columbia students. Here are the main people featured in the video:

Arrangement: Jeremy Grill ’18
Soloists: Manny Walton ’17, Nick Ribolla ’20
Song: Coffee (opb Miguel) X Pillowtalk (opb Zayn)
Video production, direction, filming, and editing: Kevin Chiu
Music recording, editing, and production: Danny Murcia

If you are interested in watching their video, click below:

To keep up to date on all things SHARP, visit their website and/or their Facebook page.

Want to feature your club’s projects on our site? Email us at

It’s that time of the year again — the air is colder, holiday carols blast from Ferris, and you are on your 11th hour sitting Butler, staring mindlessly out the window, with very little to show for it. Sound familiar? Even though you’re hardworking and want to do well on finals, studying doesn’t seem to be getting you anywhere. It happens to the best of us, because many of the ways students study don’t line up with how humans actually learn. Luckily, neuroscience has made major progress in figuring out how we learn — so you can hack your brain to study smarter.

1. Stop re-reading your textbook While it might seem like the obvious way to learn information, re-reading the textbook is actually one of the worst ways to learn if you’ve already read it. Textbooks are full of extraneous information that take lots of time to get through, so you’re wasting precious storage space on unnecessary information. It’s also incredibly difficult to focus on ‘passive’ learning of information, such as listening to a lecture or even reading a textbook — your brain has a tendency to revert to its ‘default-mode’ network and your mind wanders. If you haven’t read the textbook yet read it once while simultaneously making a study guide. Constantly ask yourself if the information is relevant, testable, and related to what was said in lecture. Write the important points down in your study guide to be referenced later.

2. Instead, study by re-creating the exam condition — Again and again, education research has found that constantly testing yourself is a much better way of learning than re-reading material. If your professor provides a practice exam, take it under real-exam conditions. The closer you are to taking a real exam, the more your episodic memory, powered by your hippocampus, can easily recall those memories on test day. After you take your practice exam and you’re reviewing your wrong answers, take the time to learn why you were wrong and focus on more practice problems that specifically test the troublesome concept. If you don’t have a practice exam provided or your upcoming exam is heavily essay-based, try coming up with practice problems/prompts for yourself. By becoming the test-maker, it’s easier to see what material lends itself well to making questions, and helps you to focus your studying on the low-hanging fruit that will likely make an appearance on an exam.

3. Study with friends/classmates — This one seems counterintuitive, as many nights spent alone in the libraries by all of us will attest. However, it’s one of the most powerful ways to enhance memory recall. Your brain is wired to prioritize social activity since we evolved as cooperative creatures. Set up a study session with someone else in the class, preferably two other people. Quiz each other on the material, asking each other the hardest questions you can come up with. Make your partners explain the entire concept through. When you have to interact with another person, your brain is more engaged and those memories will be ‘tagged’ with the importance of the interaction, leading to better long-term memory. As a bonus, being forced to explain material to someone else helps you to recognize weak points that you might have been skimmed over otherwise.

4. ‘Tell a story’ of the material to make it emotional — This works best when you’re telling it to someone else, but can also work alone. Human memory is predisposed to narratives; it’s why storytelling was one of our earliest art forms. Correspondingly, we remember best when the material has emotional significance. For some disciplines this may be easier than others, but it’s still possible to ascribe motivation to, for example, the movement of molecules. If you can personify information, your brain will ascribe it more significance and you’ll remember more of it.

5. Do one thing at a time — We all think we’re fantastic multitaskers, but neuroscience has shown that we’re actually horrible at it. On average, it takes you anywhere between 10-25 minutes to get back into an optimal ‘flow’ after a distraction. Switching rapidly between classes means you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to activate your executive attention network, and means you’ll spend more time staring blankly at information you’re not actually understanding. If you need the extra boost, apps like SelfControl for Mac, Freedom for PC, and Forest for both Android and Apple phones will help force you away from distractions. Find what distracts you most, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or messaging friends, and block access to those activities during study blocks. Your brain will thank you.

6. Take a 15-30 minute study break every 1.5 hours — Attentional control research has found that people can’t really focus for more than 1.5 hours in a row without a break. Set an app like the aforementioned SelfControl for 1.5 hours, and sit down to work just for that time. It’s less daunting than realizing you have 8 plus hours of studying to do in one day, and by delineating specific times for work and breaks, you’ll be more productive overall.

7. Study more than one thing per day, and then repeat it — Reactivation of a memory is essential for long-term consolidation, as it lets your brain know that information is important and needs to be held on to. Those 1.5 hour ‘focus’ blocks provide natural breaks to switch topics. Where those switches happen and after how many blocks is up to you and your personal exam schedule, but switching it up helps to refocus your brain by exposing it to novel content. As a bonus, by studying for three smaller blocks on three days in a row before an exam, you’ll have enough exposure to do significantly better than if you studied for the same amount all on one day.

8. A little stress is good, a lot will hurt you — Much has been said about the ‘stress culture’ that permeates this campus, but being constantly stressed out has extraordinarily negative effects on not only your health, but also your ability to remember anything. Chronic stress has been shown to actually kill off the very neurons in your hippocampus you need to store and retrieve information, meaning the longer you’re stressed about an exam, the worse you’re going to do on it. Short periods of acute stress can actually help your brain remember information, because evolutionarily, if an event might cause you harm, it makes sense to remember what that event was. In an exam context, feeling worried about an upcoming exam can be a potent motivator of helpful study behavior, but feeling full-on panicked can be a detractor. Use those 30 minute breaks to do something that brings you joy, instead of  just mindlessly scrolling through the internet. Chat with a friend, meditate, watch a short TV show — it doesn’t matter what your happy activity is, just don’t forget to do it.

9. Get at least five hours of sleep between studying and taking the exam — I know that saying to sleep more is obvious advice, but the science here specifically for learning is the strongest. You need to sleep to consolidate that fragile, newly learned information into declarative memory, which lets you actually access that content when you need it. Five hours is the bare minimum you can get away with, because your brain will go through at least one sleep cycle in five hours. Optimally, you want to aim for at least seven. Your brain uses that crucial time offline from sensory experiences to make connections among all the new information you learned and store what’s most important, making recall that much easier on exam day.

10. Don’t change your routine on exam day — Whenever you usually wake up, whatever you usually eat for breakfast, if you drink a cup of coffee in the morning, try your best to leave all those mundane factors unchanged. Altering routine is one of the biggest sources of stress in animals, and floods your brain with the stress hormones that damage your memory neurons — not what you want before an exam. Give yourself at least 10 minutes before the exam to center yourself, and try to be as calm as you can when you’re taking your test. Stress will suppress your ability to access a lot of information, because your body thinks it’s under attack. Taking the time to calm down before or even during an exam will be much more valuable in the long run than an extra 10 minutes speed-reading notes.

Every once in a while, The Lion posts a Community Editorial to capture the sentiment of the Columbia community. How it works is we randomly message students via Facebook or via email about a certain question and compile the responses. Our hope from this is to show the ideas and beliefs in the community rather than that of a specific publication’s concentrated editorial team.

For this Community editorial, we sent the following note to people:


I’m currently working on a piece about Columbia’s activism and I’m trying to gather a few thoughts about this (fairly open-ended) question: Do you think Columbia students complain too much? If so, why?

Your response would be anonymous unless you want it to be visible.

Here’s how people responded:

“I don’t think they complain too much. Obviously nothing will ever be perfect, but I think something I really like about being here is that people consciously make an effort to change things. “complaining” is usually accompanied by meaningful attempts at change, and even if it isn’t, it promotes awareness which is a worthy cause i think” – CC ’17

“I don’t think we complain too much!” – CC ’18

“Well, I wouldn’t say I have enough basis for comparison to express a well-informed opinion. However, I don’t think it’s “too much.” And my impression is  that many people at Columbia don’t just complain but actually take action and attempt to reform the issues they encounter be they big or small.” – CC ‘18

“I think that Columbia students, like many people our age, are idealists who see black-and-white answers to many of the very real prejudices and systematically engrained issues in our society. Thus, while their advocacy is well-intentioned, much of it runs the risk of alienating potential allies at the expense of their causes. In short – I think that Columbia students do advocate a lot, rightfully, but that the style with which many of them engage in protest has the appearance of complaining because of the way its carried out.” – CC ’18

“I don’t think students complain too much. I think when people say that Columbia students complain too much, they’re coming from a position of privilege. Like, you would think that complaining about something like what pronouns people use to address you or what their name on SSOL is are complaining too much, unless you’e faced the same challenges transgender students do. I think that ignorance is part of privilege.” – CC ‘19

“I think Columbia students complain too much about each other. When many people come forward to express concerns or voice their complaint, there’s a ridiculous amount of backlash or complaints that happen in response to people’s experiences  and issues.” – BC ’19

“In the beginning, I thought they did. I thought people were just creating commotion and trying to get themselves out there but after being here for a longer amount of time. I think I’ve learned more about what’s going on and the sever injustices that not a lot of people are taught. So I’m proud that I go to a school where people can gather over things they don’t think are fair. and really do something about it” – SEAS ’18

“I don’t think they complain too much. Yes, there are times when complaints may seem relatively insignificant and possibly unnecessary. But as a whole I think the activism on campus is well-intentioned and raises awareness” – SEAS ’19

Interested in helping discover unheard voices in the Columbia community? Email to join The Lion team.


One of Columbia’s more controversial events, the Columbia University Marching Band (CUMB) has released its first set of posters for this semester’s Orgo Night.

Orgo Night takes place in Butler 209 at 11:59PM on 12/15. During the event, the band comments and jokes about past events on campus while helping students destress through their performances. They also perform various songs from their collection. An example of a past Orgo Night event can be found here.

To get ready for the event, the band has also released a video titled “Mean Tweets: Orgo Night Edition” in which they read tweets from students that have criticized their group in the past.

Below are the first set of posters released by the band.

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To view more information about the event, you can look at their Facebook event here.

Uris Hall. Photo courtesy of Souren Papazian.


Protesters at the opening of Uris Hall. Photo courtesy of WikiCU.

On the day Uris Hall was completed, students at the School of Architecture came out with signs that read “No More Mudds” and “No More Uglies,” and claimed that if they were to design something like Uris, they would fail their classes. The fact that Uris is a desecration of the McKim & White Beaux-Arts campus is, perhaps, the only consensus that Columbia students have ever arrived to. Although we may be used to Uris being there, it is important to take another look at it not so much to criticize it, but more so to understand the implications behind its history and its future trajectories.

792px-universityhall1960    uhall_lib2

University Hall. Rogers’ project section and plan. Images courtesy of WikiCU.

Of course, the boxy structure was not always the plan for the central piece of the Northern part of the campus.  The original plan of the campus included University Hall, a horseshoe-like building that looked similar to the red-brick structures surrounding it. Due to a lack of funds, only the first floor of that building was completed in 1900. In 1927, Low was still overfilled with books, so a librarian proposed to expand it to the site of University Hall, and architect James Rogers produced drawings for the project. The project was massive, almost the size of St. John the Divine in plan, and, obviously was not built.

Instead of the library project monstrous in its massiveness, the university decided to build Uris Hall, monstrous in its brutal ugliness. When in 1959 the Business School received the permission to build on the site, University Hall was demolished. The only “legacy” of the U-shape of the original building is the circular library on the ground floor. The history of Uris Hall makes one wonder why Columbia settled on what some describe as a huge air-conditioning unit as the suitable design for the site. Well, the project was made possible by a generous donation of $2.5 million from the megabuilder Uris Corporation, under the condition that Uris Corporation itself would oversee the design process. That resulted in “an ugly box that was devised to be cheap and quick to erect, featuring a hideous glass curtain wall and mill finish aluminum as its exterior,” as described in Everything by Design: My Life as an Architect by Alan Lapidus, who was a student at the School of Architecture during the building’s construction and completion.

addition_to_uris_hall_by_gluck    low

Left: Uris Hall. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons. Right: Low Library. Photo courtesy of Columbia University.

Uris Hall claims to be a continuation of the original campus, geometrically referencing Low Library. Uris, especially with the 1984 addition of a front lobby, is similar to Low in size, its steps leading to the entry reference Low Steps, its vertical elements reference Low’s columns, concrete matches Low in color, and the plan of Uris is sort of a deconstructed version of Low’s Greek cross plan with a circular dome. However, the failure of this design is that it replaces Low’s majesty and elegance with aggressiveness. Lapidus remembers the day of Uris’ opening: “Watching from our fourth floor studio windows as the powerful, the great, and the near-great and the near-powerful assembled to honor and glorify the despoliation of a classic campus design – crass commercialism disguised as largesse – all of us architect hopefuls were filled with disgust.” McKim & White’s plan of the campus is not a frozen moment in time – it was designed as framework for interpretation and negotiation, as proven by various other buildings on campus, from Butler to NoCo, that were not a part of the original plan but became a harmonious part of it.  Uris does not fit in not because it is more contemporary than its neighbors are, not because of its brutalist aesthetic, not because it doesn’t reference the old campus enough, but because it is a manifestation of commercialistic cockiness on the otherwise elegant campus.

Now that the Business School is looking forward to its relocation to the Manhattanville campus, President Bollinger promised the building to the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, which comprises five of Columbia’s schools, including CC, GS, and GSAS. Bollinger’s vision is to make Arts & Sciences the focus of the Morningside Heights campus. As much as Uris is an architectural stain on Columbia’s campus, it is revealing of the university’s politics, especially in the 1950s-1960s. These decades are exemplified by the school’s projects and decisions that were at best mediocre (e.g. Uris,) at worst scary and discriminatory (e.g. Morningside Park gymnasium a.k.a. “Gym Crow”) from architectural, social, and political points of view. Uris could not reign in its ugliness because its ugliness goes beyond its boxiness. In this context, giving the space of Uris to the Arts & Sciences, whose mission is to “advance the pursuit of learning and communicate that intellectual and moral heritage to successive generations of students,” will potentially create interesting dynamics on campus.